The story of how Delmar Wiley, a Glenwood, IA native, who had been missing since August 24, 1942 and was thought to be lost was actually adrift on a rubber boat actually reached safety and care on an island in the Pacific. His experience seemed almost like a fairy tale to friends here in Iowa who had almost given up hope of his being alive. So remote seemed the chances! In August 1942, Ensign Harry Lee Corl, flying with Torpedo Squadron Three (VT-3) from USS Enterprise (CV-6), was the pilot of a TBF-1 Avenger torpedo bomber during the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. On 24 August 1942, he was flying a search mission near the Solomon Islands when he and another pilot spotted the Japanese heavy cruiser Tone. The position of the Tone was apparently reported to US Navy officials, but the report was not received due to technical problems. Following the transmission of their position report, Ensign Corl and his wingman began an attack on Tone. Soon after two Japanese Zero fighters attacked the American planes, and were quickly joined by a third Zero. Under attack by two of the Japanese fighters, Corl's Avenger was shot down. Corl and one of his two gunners, AOM2 Thomas R Townsend (NSN:2387067) were killed in action. His radioman/turret gunner, Radioman Third Class Delmar D. Wiley, survived and, after 15 days in a life raft and months spent on islands behind Japanese lines, was rescued on 11 April 1943 by a PBY Catalina piloted by Robert B. Hays from VP-44. Corl, Townsend and Wiley were declared missing in action on 24 Aug 1942. Corl and Townsend were presumed dead on 25 August 1943.
(https://www.ww2online.org/view/delmar-wiley#segment-1 is digital archieve from the National WWII Museum interview of Delmar Wiley!).
On September 16, 1942, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Guy Wiley of Glenwood, IA, received word from the United States government that their son, who was serving with the Navy as a radio operator, had been missing since a skirmish with Japanese planes over the Pacific waters. Delmar was in an aeroplane with two other men and the plane, known to have been crippled, was believed to have sunk after crashing downward to the waters. His station was Pearl Harbor, Hawaiian Islands.
No word was heard from him until Friday, April 23 when Mrs. Wiley received the following telegram: "Greetings. All well and safe. Letters sent. Delmar Wiley." The following day a letter arrived which read the following: "I suppose you've been wondering where I've been hiding for the past 7 1/2 months. It's too long a story to tell right now so I'll just let you in on the high spots. I met up with two Zeros on August 24, 1942. My pilot and bombardier were killed. My right leg was shot up a bit. I got a piece of shrapnel from a 20 mm. in my right ankle, and another one clipped me in the thigh. They are all healed now. After we crashed, by some miracle, I got the rubber boat afloat and got in. I spent 15 days almost to the hour in the boat before I finally landed on a small island. I can't tell you the name of this island. The natives took me in, fed me and dressed my wounds as best they could. The only way out was by canoe, and not being familiar with the lay of the islands up there, I couldn't very well set out alone. The only planes that flew over were Jap, so I couldn't very well signal one. After six months, a Flying Fortress crew drifted into the same island. The pilot and navigator and I set out in an outrigger canoe, with no chart, and only a small pocket compass, sailed and paddled that canoe out to safety. I've had enough experiences to write a book. I'm rushed now, but as soon as I can get around to it, I'll write the whole story. It's stranger than fiction, believe me."
Monday morning at 2:00 o'clock, a phone call came for Mrs. Wiley. Delmar was in San Francisco and said that he would be home in less than a week. He had come to the United States on the Clipper and said that he was feeling fine. After having never heard a word for over six months and not knowing where he was or if he was alive, Mrs. Wiley said it was almost "too good to be true" to hear his voice again.
Delmar graduated from Glenwood High School with the class of 1940 and enlisted in the Navy as soon as he became old enough. Delmar D. Wiley enlisted in the US Navy (NSN: 316 66 11) in Omaha, NE on 2 July 1940. Seaman 2/c Wiley reported aboard the USS Yorktown (CV-5) on 12 Dec 1940 from the Receiving Station, San Diego, CA for duty. On 4 Jan 1941 Wily was transferred from the USS Yorktown (CV-5) to Torpedo Squadron Five (VT-5) for duty. Navy Aviation Radioman, Delmar Wiley, had several public engagements once arriving back in Iowa. He spoke over radio station WHO in Des Moines on Wednesday night at 10:30 and over KSO of the same city at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. He was featured Sunday night over the coast-to-coast broadcast, "We The People," which, in courtesy to Delmar, will originate in Des Moines this week. Following his radio appearance, Delmar Wiley had a busy schedule.
On Monday he spoke before his alma mater, Glenwood High school, and afterwards, as a courtesy to a little friend of his, he went to the second grade class to answer some very special questions they had on his "school" in the Pacific. Tuesday, he spoke to an Iowa State Guard unit, while on Thursday evening, he addressed the Rotary Club, and on Friday evening he joined and addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and on the following Monday he spoke before the Lions Club. He went to Des Moines to be the guest of The Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon on May 13, 1943, and was the speaker at a Bond Rally in Ottumwa on May 18, 1943.
Many other high schools and organizations have approached him, but in view of the fact he is really home to rest and recuperate, Delmar is not sure how many more invitations he would accept! His brother, Owen Wiley, with the Veteran's Bureau in Knoxville, IA arrived and was self-appointed his brother's secretary. Fan mail is arrived in considerable bulk, along with requests for autographs.
Following the War, Delmar met Doris Jackson and on August 7, 1943 they were joined in marriage, beginning a 70 year journey together. Delmar attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln earning a degree in Electrical Engineering. He worked for the Elgin Watch Company in Lincoln Nebraska and Elgin Illinois. In 1960, Delmar moved the family to Fullerton, California to take a job with the Autonetics Division of North American Aviation (later Rockwell International). Until his retirement in 1982, Delmar worked on a variety of aerospace projects including Minuteman missile guidance systems and the Apollo project.
Retirement time was spent with wife Doris and extended family. Delmar Wiley, 91, of Fullerton, California, passed away December 4, 2013. Doris, his devoted bride of 70 years, was at his side when he passed. In addition to his wife, Delmar was survived by three children, Jody, Ken and Becky; 5 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
Nice article found: http://www.ocregister.com/2006/11/15/island-life-strong-in-sailors-memory/ Delmar is also immortilized at the Smithsonian National Air and Space museaum on the Wall of Honor, foil:7, Panel:3, Column:3, Line:29, [https://airandspace.si.edu/support/wall-of-honor/delmar-dean-wiley-usn]